Eliminating clutter vital for flex spaces
It’s the space that’s supposed to be a bonus in condominiums: the one marked “flex” or “storage” or even “multi-purpose” on the floor plans.
The problem is, the space is often so small, it hardly serves any purpose at all.
Designer Erik Lauzon of Konstruk Design has seen how much of a disaster these rooms can be. “The flex room becomes a dump. People throw in stuff that they don’t know where else to put, or maybe they’re simply not ready to throw that stuff away.”
If it’s something that hasn’t been used for more than a year, it’s time to get rid of it, says Lauzon.
Identifying a purpose for the space is the first step to getting junk under control.
“If you’re going to use it as a storage room, that’s fine,” he says.
“But don’t try and use it as a workspace, too; there isn’t enough room for that. If you’re going to do work there, get rid of unnecessary clutter and make it minimalist and usable.”
Lauzon is applying his strategies to a condo where the flex space is completely inflexible.
Joelle Guerin knew space would be a challenge two years ago when she moved from her two-bedroom apartment in Burnaby, B.C., to a condo in downtown Vancouver.
“I must have looked at more than 30 places listed as being one-bedroomand-dens, or one-bedroom-plus-flex,” she says with a laugh. “I pretty much drove my realtor crazy.”
Guerin ended up with a home close to her workplace, but had to make a lot of adjustments during the transition.
She bought all-new furniture, includ- ing a storage bed that holds plenty of household items. She also bought a sixby-two-foot desk, which dominates the storage room.
“It (the room) has become a catchall for random things. I put paperwork down, and it piles up until I clean it out every few months ... I don’t even go into it unless I’m throwing something in, and when people come over, I make sure I pull the door closed.”
The small size of the space has forced Guerin to pare down how much paperwork she keeps around, and Lauzon says that’s a good start.
Lauzon says Guerin should also start using the large, black, framed pegboard over the desk to better display keepsakes or lists of tasks she has to tackle.
It would be a better use of space to centre the desk and pegboard in the room, he says.
That would then leave enough room on the right hand side to put up six brightly coloured wall-hung folders to deal with paperwork, with titles like ‘not so important,’ ‘important’ and ‘do this right now.’
On the opposite wall, Lauzon suggests creating a photo wall with black and white photos, matted in white, to up the chic factor.
He would paint the entire room in a soft grey tinged with green, which goes well with the existing carpet.
Designers are increasingly using grey as a neutral colour.
“If she doesn’t need the door, she should take it off, especially since it’s such a small space,” says Lauzon.
“Making the interior of the room visible is an incentive to keep it organized and you get rid of the dead space. You could also put a little bit of overhead shelving in.” He estimates the total cost at between $300 and $500.
Joelle Geurin’s flex space could use a little help putting away the clutter. Above, designer Erik Lauzon’s sketch of what the revamped space could look like.